Artur Vanetsyan

Armenian Opposition Leader Resigns from Parliament

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Opposition leader Artur Vanetsyan on Tuesday, June 21, announced his resignation from the Armenian parliament and the breakup of his Fatherland party’s alliance with former President Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party (HHK).

Vanetsyan said he is resigning his seat because he believes the National Assembly has “ceased to be an effective platform” for challenging the Armenian government and its “ruinous” policies. For the same reason, Fatherland will operate only “outside the parliament” from now on, he said in a statement.

The decision, Vanetsyan went on, also means the demise of the Pativ Unem alliance formed by Fatherland and the former ruling HHK in the run-up to the June 2021 parliamentary elections.

Pativ Unem finished a distant third in those elections, becoming one of the two opposition blocs represented in the new National Assembly. Four of its six parliament deputies are affiliated with the HHK.

Vanetsyan’s party has been represented in the 107-seat parliament by its leader and former newspaper editor Taguhi Tovmasyan. Another Fatherland parliamentarian defected from Pativ Unem last fall.

Vanetsyan said that Tovmasyan and Martun Grigoryan, an election candidate who is next in line to take up his parliament seat, will be free to decide whether or not to follow his example.

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Sargsyan’s HHK did not immediately react to the decisions announced by its opposition ally.

Vanetsyan already promised in April that he will resign from parliament if the Armenian opposition fails to topple Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

Pativ Unem and the other parliamentary opposition force, Hayastan, launched on May 1 daily demonstrations in Yerevan aimed at forcing Pashinyan to resign. They failed to achieve their goal.

In what they called a change of tactics, opposition leaders announced on June 14 that they will now hold antigovernment rallies in Yerevan on a weekly basis. Vanetsyan did not clarify whether he and his party would remain involved in the opposition’s “resistance movement.”

Vanetsyan, 42, is a former officer of the National Security Service (NSS) who was appointed as head of Armenia’s most powerful security agency right after the 2018 “velvet revolution” that brought Pashinyan to power. He became one of the most influential members of Pashinyan’s entourage before being unexpectedly sacked in 2019. Vanetsyan has since been a vocal critic of the prime minister.

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